Beyond the towering spires of the high-rise resorts and the crystalline beaches of the Hotel Zone that Cancun is known for lies the mainland city. Forgotten behind the glamorous ritz and spam of Spring Break and all-inclusive hotel chains, the city boasts a modern infrastructure, a safe and inviting Mexican culture, and a cost of living that is affordable for most digital nomads. On top of that, there are dozens of plazas, movie theaters, local parks and green areas such as the Urban Park Kabah, otherwise known in Spanish as the Parque Urbano Kabah.
Located on the western edge of the downtown district known as Centro, just across the avenue from the Cancun branch of Costco, lies Parque Kabah. The main avenue and the park itself share the same name, but the basic gist of things is that this is a 39 hectare plot of protected land set aside within the heart of the city as an eco reserve.
It has been a protected section of land set aside by the city since November 10th, 1995, although the overall development of the existing facilities has waxed and waned and waxed again over the years. For the most part, it serves as the beating heart of the city’s green spaces, and is the larges park within Cancun.
Over the years, it has been home to a number of animals, such as crocodiles, ducks, spider monkeys, turtles, roosters, various birds, rabbits, iguanas and also a large collection of coatis (there’s some footage in the Viajes Con Cristina video at the bottom of the page with a family of coatis eating fruits from one of our early morning jaunts to the park), who run around on their own. There’s also a lagoon as well as a small pool in the center of the park where you can find fish and various types of turtles.
While the coatis don’t typically bother tourists, they can be a tad aggressive if you are eating food along the paths through the park, so it’s recommended not to eat on the go. Also, don’t stop and eat, because the iguanas will literally come charging out of the jungle and snap the food right out of your hands.
The park is also host to a small museum where you can explore various pictures, maps and descriptions that talk about the history of Cancun, as well as various Maya structures that are set up to show people what the locals lived like before modern man came to the area and started building the city that exists today.
While it’s known as being an urban green area, Parque Kabah doubles as the city’s most popular jogging spot in the early morning hours. The pathways are packed between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., although be warned: this is also the most active time of the day for mosquitos, and if you stop for more than ten or fifteen seconds you will be swarmed. As long as you keep on the go, however, there isn’t any issue with the little buggers.
On top of the jogging paths, the city has also taken the time to set up various types of outdoor exercise equipment, which are all displayed in the video. Plus, there’s a playground and various other structures that can be used by children as well as adults, such as rope bridges, swingsets, pullup bars, hand-made weights that are nothing more than stones with tree branches connecting them (home-made dumbells), a climbing rope and more.
All in all, whether you are coming here by yourself to make use of the outdoor excercise equipement or the jogging paths to stay in shape, or you want to bring the family for a nice afternoon picnic or one of the events and workshops that take place at the park from time to time, Parque Urbano Kabah is one of those of those local secrets that you’ll never find if you stay tucked away behind the walls of the all-inclusive resorts in the Hotel Zone. If you have a sense of adventure and want to mingle with the locals, or you happen to be living here like a local just like we do, you’ll be spending a lot of time here.
The park hours are from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. Don’t be too late on your way out, because the security guards usually close the gates on time and they’ll only stick around for fifteen minutes or so after the fact to double-check for anyone who might have been caught dozing or in the middle of their run.
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If you are looking for more information on Cancun or Mexico in general, you can pick up our Live Like a Local guide for the city, packed with other restaurant recommendations, apartment and condo referrals, tips on navigating the public transportation system, local negotiation tips and strategies, market and discount day overviews and more!